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A New Circle of Hell in Dante's Inferno: Customer Service

Updated: Sep 30, 2023

When Dante wrote the Inferno in 1321, he identified 9 circles of Hell. I have no doubt if Dante lived today he would add a 10th circle: customer service. So I will add it in his honor.

The entrance to the 10th rung of Hell features a telephone. Pick it up and call a company in search of customer service. I usually get a robot voice that asks: “Thank you for calling. Please select the reason for your call from the following menu.” I explain, “I want to talk to a live person.” “I’m sorry,” says the robot-voice, “I do not understand. Let me repeat the menu.” Usually it takes 3 or 4 tries (by this time I am screaming in fury) until the cyber voice gives up and transfers me to a live representative.

This next stop of the 10th circle of Hell begins with following message: “This call may be monitored or recorded for quality assurance and training proposes.” This message is being phoned in from circle 8 of Dante’s Hell: fraud. Who really believes recorded calls and responses are being used to improve service?

After listening to this warning, the next message begins: “All of our agents are busy serving other customers. Your call is important to us. Please stay on the line.”

This message is to test endurance. Is your problem bad enough to endure a 10 minute wait? A 20 minute wait? One time I endured a 30 minute wait because “our call volume is unusually high. Please excuse the delay.” When t customer rep finally answered, she had to endure my thoughtful, well-meaning evaluation of her company’s approach to customer service. (They won’t be using that phone call for training purposes.)

When I finally get a live person, I realize my trip is not over. The customer rep asks for proof of my problem. What is the order number? What is your pin? Was there a full moon when you placed the order? I am not very computer literate and when they tell me go to my computer graveyard to resurrect the paperwork, I know I am toast.

It is time Congress passed some meaningful legislation. We need a law that compels all companies to immediately provide live customer support if requested by a caller.

Until then, the warning Dante gave centuries ago remains valid for Circle 10 Customer Service: Abandon all hope ye who enter here.

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1 Comment

Joel Edelblute
Joel Edelblute
Jun 29, 2023

There is no generational divide or way of seeing things differently here. As a Millennial/Gen X-er I completely and unequivocally agree.

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